Another ripper ride with Jim end of June early July.
We have done a few rides recently out and around the Thai – Lao border in the Chong Mek / Srindahorn area.
Together decided it was a good opportunity to get over to Laos (weather permitting) for a final romp around prior to the rainy season proper setting in..
Extremely lucky with the weather.. You could not have asked for better for this time of year.
Last day was overcast but no rain at all..
Get to Ubon, cross the border and spend one night at Tad Fane resort leaving our gear and ride around the Plateau for the first day.
After that.. No Plan.. take it as it comes..
In part as we were not sure how the trails and weather will be as previous two weeks there had been a bit / lot of rain..
As we were riding these 6 days.. It was very evident that it could have been a lot more muddy only a week or so earlier.
We still have some very slippery clay and some good mud to ride through.
On the whole.. It was as good as could be expected for end June early July.
Jim picks me at the airport with bikes and gear in the pickup and off we go to the hotel in Chong Mek.
Diet Pizza in the pick-up to sustain us until the morning.
While on the way we discussed the possiblility of trying to get down the Plateau from Paksong to the last big river crossing on Route 18a.
Jim had traced as best he could from Google Earth the trail that goes down and where he couldn’t make it out.. Guessed the in between bits..
We were both hesitant as rainy season, clay and the unknown..
Can we get through, how high are the rivers and hope we don’t get most of the way to turn around..
Up bright and early to the border.. First ones there for the opening.
All very efficient and fast as usual. The officials as usual very friendly at this crossing
Arrive on the Lao side.. Big upgrades going on..
Arrive at Tad Fane to be greeted by Dirk (Koffie) Well known character for his love of all things coffee.
Breakfast with the best view you could ask for.
Short clip of the waterfall in all its glory.
After a great couple of hours chatting with Dirk and drinking copious amounts of his lovely coffee..
We decide we had better do some riding or we head for the hammocks for the rest of the afternoon.
We decided on the riding.. Taking a few trails here and there that always ended up back on the big and rutted main tracks. After the riding we had been doing in Chong Mek it was a little boring to be honest..
So we decide to do a recky on the track down from Paksong to Route 18a – last river crossing.
Ride out of Paksong for around 15km and turn off..
All good so far, even if a bit of a boring main track..
You can see where it had rained and been a mess, but had mostly dried up…
My turn.. The Jim can’t have all the fun…
What is the first thing you do when you crash? Get up and take a photo…
Bike facing in the opposite direction we were heading.. Good long slide as you can see in the picture, nice scrape in the clay.
We attracted a lot of attention and had some good laughs with the locals..
One of the locals told us he came off his Honda Wave 5 times..
Back to Tad Fane to sleep the night and think about our plan..
Also to make some repairs after the crashes.
Next day we leave way to late as so relaxing and could have spent another day doing nothing.
Still at an elevation of over 1,200 metres above sea level and flat.
Next thing arrive upon major road construction…
It was bloody slippery as you can see below.. Green moss all over the trail..
The trail has turned in to a creek from the mountain run off..
This was an easy bit..
I couldn’t even stand up.. Standing there.. Doing nothing and start sliding off in to the hole.
Hmmm. If it is like this all the way. It is going to take us a month to get to Attapue. Now around 2 + PM
Me: Shall we turn back? Jim: Lets go 30 minutes.. OK..
Ok going for a while.. Then steep and slippery again.
The next 5 KM took us 2.5 hrs! We knew we couldn’t ride back up.. It was difficult enough getting down.
The Honda Wave boys have mastered these trails..
Riding down like some kind of Snow Ski.. Flip flops as the stabilisers and it works..
The Honda Wave boys offered to lead us out.. But we didn’t want to slow them down.. LOL
We never saw them again..
At least once on the way down we started talking about camping along the trail and what food etc we had
We could have no worries.. I had some beef jerky and the life straw and Jim has some bits and bobs too.
After getting out of the Black holes, we rehydrate and continue..
Finally, not as steep but still slippery.. Now we can do at least 20 kph if not more some times..
A small creek crossing.. Probably impassable if there had been more rain.
Walk the next crossing to see how deep it is
As we pulled up two locals came along and I asked which way..
They looked at the bike and us then point to the bridge.
Time to ride over the bridge
Next we are able to open it up on the graded trails.. 70 / 80 even 90 kph.
Felt like freedom after the crawl down the plateau.
We stop at a village to refuel.. They tell us the rest of the way to Attapue is Sabai Sabai..
Laughing when we tell them about our journey.
Only 1 hour away.. Now the funny things is.. Except for the very start at the road works.. Where we were told 2 hrs to Attapue.
Everyone we met along the way said.. Attapue, 1 hr away.. By this stage we have been hearing 1 hr for the last 5 hrs..
We arrive at the last river crossing on route 18a right on dusk.
Pull down to the river looking for a raft to get over.. The river is too high to ride.
No rafts.. Go back up to the village and they direct us further down..
There is now a bridge over the last river crossing.. Also looks like road works going further in to route 18a.
After a couple of KM it is pitch dark.
We are able to make good time.. Road works and bridge works and cows laying on the road to dodge..
The last part of the road just before Attapue was hard.. Really rutted and really rough and not much fun in the dark.
Shattered and had enough.. Suggest to Jim we head for the biggest and best hotel.. Jim agrees.
This is how you check in to the most expensive hotel in town.
We arrived at 8pm. 7 hrs ride..
Next day. TLC for the bikes
Next to the Soapy place there was a great little shop with bits and pieces for bikes, trucks etc.
We needed more oil for the chains.
The kids loved our bikes
Then we went for a ride around town, over the bridge and back and then along the river looking for a nice place to relax the afternoon away..
Jim having some fun with the owner.. She thought this was quite funny when she woke up and we showed her..
Next destination Sekong
Son learning the family business.
Sekong to Saravan the long way round.
The first long bit before the village turn off seems to be busier and not so nice this time around
We passed a lot of logging trucks 🙁
There were still a few nice snaps to be had along the way.
Toll bridge ready when the water rises.
We spot this little girl walking up the road taking shelter from the sun
Next a really fanastic ride down the trail to Saravan.. Really is pretty.
Also the most mud and water we had faced yet.. A REAL mud bath earlier
We stop here and really can’t see any easy way around
Jim goes first.. So I can take pictures 😉
I pull up further down as close as I can and try and find a better line.. There isn’t one..
Just about to take off and wish for the best.. When a lady in the rice fields yells out and gets my attention..
Go back 100 150 metres and there is a track that takes you through the village and out the other side.
Another river crossing
The next crossing just before Saravan. Rex and I rode this last time
This time the river is too high
Over the bridge and in to Saravan for Beers.
After a visit to Tad Lo.
Ride to the border and back to Thailand, but first we must cross the mighty Mekong.
The final days ride…..
To be honest.. I tend to take a less challenging and more well known path on the last day of a ride.
Just don’t want to screw up on the last day if possible.. But the Jim had other ideas.
The night before Jim had suggested we take this track through the rice paddies on the other side of the river to Vang Tao.
BUT.. What would it be like over that side.. It is flat and rice paddies.. We had one very muddy experience in similar terrain already.
We decide to try it.. Rather than taking the paved way.. Look and plot a direct path down the plateau to route 13.
This track was nothing too exciting.. Neither of us had done it before..
The best part was the last big river crossing.. What a ripper..
Overview with car ferry.
Collecting the toll on the raft..
How and where did that bridge come from?
Then you go along a bit more dirt before you pop out on tarmac. The 13 is not far away.
Blast down the 13 for a good 20 or 30 km…
Find the turn off and head to the Mekong and the ferry.
We had to get the bikes part way down, then turn them around and back them on to the raft..
Glad some locals were there to help back the bikes down..
I was already looking under my armpit to make sure I didn’t mis step and end up in the Khong.
Don’t have a very good picture.. But when you are on this little ‘boat’ the Mekong felt like the pacific ocean…
The next two pics.. Neither of us have a happy face.
1. The struggle down the Khong and crossing the Khong.. You will note we are sitting low so we don’t ‘rock the boat’..
2. The unknown possible 26 km mud fest to the Vang Tao / Chong Mek border.
Chris Corbett said it looks like we are special forces coming back from Ops LOL..
All I know is.. When I saw this pic and how dirty we are.. I knew why we had stares and gasps at the duty free shop.
No pics on the other side.. Flat and rice fields, not too wet..
Nice to go this way than the usual route to Pakse on the tarmac..
This route was around 26 km.. If we had gone all the way to Pakse and back out to the border. It would have been over 70km. A fun short cut and off the busy road.
Back to Chong Mek and while we rented the rooms for 100 baht each.. Changed and cleaned up.
The bikes had a soapy..
What a setup.. Accomodation, food and soapy all owned by the same person.
Plus they were happy to see us..
Fabulous 6 day ride. When we started this trip we had no idea how the weather would be or where we would end up.
Planned for the first day and night only and play it by ear..
Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would end up in Attapue and do that great trail down the plateau followed by Sekong and Saravan.
Pictures taken by both of us. Good Job Jim with the video.. Had no idea you were videoing most of the time.
Big thanks to Jim.. Pleasure riding with you mate..
Looking forward already to the next ride along the border at Chong Mek.
Short video from the Bridge to Saravan.